On Presence and Meditation 2
Fragments from imaginary dialogues
“How can I practice Presence?”
“The goal is for it to become a habit.
Use James Clear’s four rules as a guide.
Make it obvious. (Cue)
Make it attractive. (Craving)
Make it easy. (Response)
Make it satisfying. (Reward)”
“How can I make it easy?”
“As we’ve talked before [<link; medium read], the Meditation practice is the fundamental unit of the Presence practice. Thinking of the Presence practice in terms of rep(etition)s, it consists of ‘meditation-reps‘, and every meditation-rep consists of what I called ‘attentional-reps‘.
Let’s turn our attention to Meditation.
There’s two ways you can structure it:
By focusing on time. eg ‘Meditate for 5 minutes.’
By focusing on breaths. eg ‘Meditate for 5 breaths.'”
“How about focusing on activity? Performing an activity as meditation.
eg ‘eating-meditation’, or ‘dish-washing-meditation’, or ‘shower-meditation’.”
“The idea of making it easy is to make it too small to fail, to ensure consistency of practice. To do that, you need scalable structures, structures of adjustable length. You need to be able to identify the smallest possible unit – the ‘atom‘, so to speak.
The atom of the Meditation practice is 1 breath. I call it the 1-breath meditation.
Not only is it doable anywhere at any time, but it also incorporates the breath into the practice, which is a powerful tool on its own.”
“By why focus on time at all, and not just on breaths?”
“There’s a Buddhist meditation practice – which I know from Mark Divine’s book Unbeatable Mind – of counting to 10 breaths. Whenever you notice your attention has wandered, you start back from zero.
There’s two principles at work here: mindful breaths, and counting breaths. We could call mindful breaths quality reps. These are the only ones worth counting.
I find counting breaths very useful, because it’s a way to assess how well you’re doing, which allows you to practice more deliberately. Ideally, count using your fingers, not mentally.
As long as you’re counting breaths, focusing on time works just as well.
There’s three ways you can go about it.
You can count to a set number. Meditate for x breaths. This can take a long or short time, based on the chosen number, and how well you’re doing.
You can count to a set time. Meditate for y minutes. Get as many mindful reps in as you can in that time-frame. It can be 5 minutes (5-minute meditation), it can even be just 1 minute (1-minute meditation).
You can count to a set number and a set time. Meditate for x breaths or y minutes, whichever comes first.“